Experiences from conception to age six have the most important influence of any time in the life

MELT Study

MELT Study 

Low levels of literacy in early childhood can have lasting effects on children’s educational and intellectual development. Many countries have implemented newborn literacy programs designed to teach parents preliteracy promoting activities to share with their children. We conducted 2 quasi-experimental studies using 1) a pre-test/post-test design and 2) a nonequivalent control group design to examine the effect of newborn literacy programs on parents’ self-reported literacy intentions/behaviors, values toward literacy, and parent-child interactions. Parents were recruited from 3 provinces, 2 with newborn literacy programs (intervention) and 1 without (control). Parents in the intervention group completed prenatal and postnatal (after participation in program) questionnaires. Parents in the control group completed 1 questionnaire. Questionnaires were designed to capture parents’ literacy intentions (prenatal), behaviors (postnatal), values, and parent-child interactions (postnatal). A total of 98 parents were included in study one and 174 were included in study two. Parents’ self-reported prenatal intentions and values were higher than their postnatal behaviors and values. Parents in the intervention group exhibited higher literacy behaviors and values and greater enjoyment reading to their children than parents in the control group, though they also reported to their children less frequently. Parents in the intervention group had significantly higher Positive Interactive scores than controls. Overall, we found participation in newborn literacy programs positively impacted parenting behaviors and attitudes. Lower postnatal within-group scores (intentions and values versus behaviors and values) may have been the result of participants’ high expectations. Given our findings, we recommend that these programs continue. 

Studying these newborn family literacy programs in the Maritime Provinces will provide vital knowledge on the influence of these programs on literacy promoting activities and child preliteracy activities. We will also examine program implementation and cost effectiveness. 

Program impacts: 
1.    Measure the influence of the programs on parental engagement (both mothers and fathers) in literacy promoting activities and child preliteracy activities, as well as parental self-focused literacy (e.g., parents changing their own reading behavior or seeking to increase their literacy). 
2.    Assess the influence of the parent-child relationship on parental engagement in literacy promoting activities. 
3.    Measure the influence of social determinants of health on the relationship between program participation and literacy promoting activities/child engagement in preliteracy activities (as outlined above). 
4.    Test a model containing the social determinants of health, parent-child relationship, parental engagement in literacy promoting activities/child engagement in preliteracy activities by program participation (control/treatment) for predicting child preliteracy activities.